As digital TV continues to develop, many people have become much more particular on what type of aerial they want to use together with their television. Beyond the burden of having to choose between Freeview TV, Freesat TV, Sky TV and many more, people are also now talking about what kind of TV aerial best suits their home TV set up.
On their list of options are some of the usual suspects such as outdoor TV aerials, rooftop TV aerials and indoor TV aerials. Some even do without TV aerials all together and spring for a satellite dish instead. However, in recent years, another type of aerial has slowly been making some buzz, and that is the loft aerial.
As its name suggests, this involves mounting or installing an aerial in the loft, attic or roof space of a home. This type of aerial has emerged as society became more and more conscious of the aesthetic of the facade of their home, and how outdoor and rooftop aerials would ruin it.
However, as it is true that outdoor aerials look too clunky or out of place outside an aesthetically optimised home, most homeowners who opt to take this approach do not take into consideration the height and position an aerial should be placed in order to produce the best TV picture quality as possible.
That is why if you are considering loft TV aerial installations, it is vital that you get everything right. Any small mistake or miscalculation could result in poor reception or low signal strength. This, in turn, will result in a poor TV viewing experience.
To help ensure that you are able to enjoy your TV programmes fully while making use of loft aerials, we’ve come up with a guide that tells you what you should know when it comes to loft TV aerial installations.
Additionally, to help you decide if a loft TV aerial is truly what you want, we’ve also included a list of the pros and cons of using one.
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Things To Consider Before Installing A Loft TV Aerial
As mentioned above, a small miscalculation could totally ruin your TV viewing experience. That is why, if you are planning on installing a TV aerial in a loft space, you may want to consider the following:
What Is Your Loft Made Of?
Yes, your wall and roofing materials play a part in the success of your loft tv aerial installation. Foil lining, in particular, will only make your attempts at installing an aerial in your loft futile. This is because the foil lining would only reflect the signal away, which means it will never reach the aerial in the first place.
The same thought applies if you have metal sheeting or solar panels on your roof and walls.
How Far Away Is The Nearest TV Transmitter? (And In Which Direction Is It Located?)
Loft antennas are usually best suitable for households that are, at most, 15 miles away from the nearest transmitter. However, because aerials are made for different transmitter distances, make sure you are using one that is appropriate for the distance between your house and the transmitter.
Also, make sure to find out in which direction the transmitter is located. As it is with any kind of TV aerial, it is crucial that you put it in a location where it will more likely receive tv signals. You wouldn’t want your antenna facing East when the TV transmitter is located West. That would just make it more difficult for your aerial to receive signal.
Is The Line Of Sight Path Clear?
It is vital to find a position for your aerial where the line of sight path to the TV transmitter is as less obstructed as possible. Such obstructions can come in the form of nearby hills, buildings and even tall trees!
Otherwise, TV reception problems may occur, especially when the weather conditions cause the trees to move around more. TV fluctuations due to an obstructed line of sight can happen even if you live near the transmitter!
Are There Sources Of Interference In The Vicinity?
Interference can come in the form of material objects like metallic objects including pipes and water tanks in and around your loft, which can eventually detune the aerial.
Impulse noise interference is also pretty common with loft aerials. This means you would be experiencing low signal level, momentary picture freezing, or what is commonly known as your TV picture breaking up. To avoid this, it is advisable to use a log periodic TV aerial, which was designed and developed to reject interference from the side and back of the antenna.
Where Will You Be Placing The TV?
The distance between your aerial and your TV is also crucial to determine.
While this wouldn’t necessarily affect the signal strength on your TV, it is essential for you to be able to identify how much and what kind of coaxial cable you need to connect your aerial to your HD TV or set-top box.
What Kind Of Antenna Do You Need?
Using the right kind of antenna or TV aerial is also crucial to the success of your loft TV aerial installation. As mentioned above, you will want an antenna that is able to block out as much interference as possible, while also picking up even weaker TV signals.
To ensure good TV picture quality, consider using high gain aerials, or the aforementioned log periodic TV aerial.
A pro-tip: While an indoor aerial would probably work when installed in your loft, you may be better off using an outdoor aerial for optimum results.
Advantages Of Using A Loft Aerial
Aside from its aesthetic advantages, which have been mentioned above, here are some reasons as to why you would want to consider a loft TV aerial:
While almost all aerials are waterproof, a loft TV aerial is totally weather-proof. It is safe from strong winds, torrential rain, lightning and UV degradation from the sun which can all cause it to deteriorate much faster.
Because it will be protected from the elements, you wouldn’t have to purchase one that is made of extremely sturdy materials. Less sturdy materials = Lower costs.
A loft antenna is almost always as efficient as an outdoor antenna. Loft aerials, however, are much cheaper to install as compared to the alternative.
Disadvantages Of Using A Loft Aerial
While it will be close to the signal levels delivered by an outdoor aerial, it just won’t be the same. No matter how optimum the positioning of your tv aerial is, it will still be confined within walls and a roof, thus dampening the tv signals even just a bit.
As discussed quite repetitively in this article, due to the restrictions provided by the wall and roofing materials, even the smallest difference in the alignment, height and positioning of your loft aerial can affect signal strength and tv reception.
The level of attenuation is high, and it could go even higher when the roof tiles are wet or covered by snow. High attenuation can result in poor TV reception.
There are limitless possibilities of interference from objects, wiring, and fluorescent lights in the vicinity of the aerial.
If you are set on using a loft tv aerial for your HD TV, here are some tips you may want to consider in order to improve your viewing experience:
While installing your aerial, have a portable digital compatible TV to accurately locate the location with the best signal quality on all channels.
Use a signal attenuator to assist in aligning your loft aerial. An attenuator will make the TV picture noisy, so find the alignment which will produce the least picture noise. Remove the attenuator when the alignment is complete.
Use a loft aerial bracket to secure your aerial.
Adjust your loft aerials from the weakest TV channel, or the TV station on the highest UHF channel number.
Once you have mounted the aerial, the end furthest from the coaxial cable should be titled up by a degree horizontally for optimum results.
Just like any other kind of TV aerial, a loft aerial has its advantages and disadvantages. It all depends on where you are located and how much interference and obstructions are around you.
If you are unsure on whether a loft tv aerial is for you or if you are in need of loft aerial installations, do not hesitate to call a professional to help you out.